Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 26........

Sunday, June 26
This week was awesome. Pastor Al, Steve and Pastor Roger and Pastor Peter Deyali our translator, were able to do the three day spiritual leaders training at Butare prison. This coming week we will be doing the one day step-up training with Rilima & Nsinda prisons. What a week!!! We had 68 men in the training, 10 guards on the first day of training, three guards on the last day of training and 250 men who watched, listened and stayed with us outside the walls of the training center all three days.

We had seven denominations including three Muslims among our spiritual leaders.
Our first day we spent most of the day on relationship building sharing our testimonies and talking about our background experiences including family pictures. Then Pastor Al did an incredible job of teaching on the results of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. He took us from Adam to the return of Christ in Revelation in about two hours. I followed up his teaching with the 7 miracles at conversion.

The next day we taught on the 7 steps to spiritual growth... we continued to build relationships with personal illustrations and activities to build community. We were attempting to break down some of the denominational boundaries that exit even among prison spiritual leaders. We were emphasizing throughout the teaching of one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We finished the training on the third day with biblical character studies on servant-leadership.

Hierarchy is huge among African churches. Pastor Al finished our teaching with a humbling and incredibly moving illustration by washing one of the men's feet from Mt. 13. Jesus washing the disciples feet.

His question was a great question: What would you do if you only had one day left to live? Jesus met with his disciples and washed their feet, a common thing to do in Israel by the lowest of servants. We trust this teaching will be imbedded in their hearts and minds and their future teaching of others. We had an awesome time as a team and made some very special friends among the prisoners.

To God be the glory,
for the team

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24...........

Ministry Partners,
Sorry we have not been able to post while we were in Butare but the internet was not available.

Today was our last day of ministry at Butare Prison and because it was visitor day at the prison the Director asked us to arrive at 8 and finish at 11, which we did.

The women's team arrived at the courtyard inside the women's area about 8:30 and waited until the sound system and women prisoners arrived. I presume they had not been told of the 1 hour earlier schedule as when the saw the big metal door open and we started to enter, they started running to get seated. They began singing and I began greeting as many as I could, some with a cheek to cheek greeting, some with a hug and some, because there were so many around me, I could only extend my hands which they eagerly shook.

Kathy did 1 teaching, followed by 2 songs from their choir all dressed in their colorful choir outfits, then she did a second teaching. I am so very thankful for both Kathy and Lovena as they have shared their hearts and God's Word with such passion and love. I could not hold back the tears as I looked at all the women following the scriptures Kathy was using in their very own Bibles.
"Thank You"
again for each Bible you graciously provided.
They would not allow photos but it is a photo in my mind I will never forget.

I shared at the end of our time with them an object lesson and explained the scripture bookmark we were leaving for them so they could remind themselves everyday of the truth of God's Word concerning who they are and what they now posses as born again children of God. I had shared previously with them about believing a lie from the enemy, for a long time, that I had no value and how I wanted them to tell themselves the truth from God's Word. I pulled up the faces of a few of the seated women, looking her in the eyes, and said "You have great value". And then I asked them to tell their neighbor the same thing which they readily did with laughter, hugs and smiles. Then I asked them to make me a promise...... that they would tell each other that same thing many times a day and they agreed to do so. I finished by telling them how much we loved them.

Those of you who know me personally know that by then the tears were rolling down my cheeks so I had to explain to them that they were tears of joy for the time we had been able to spend with them.

Alfred arrived to escort us out but as we were about to exit 6 ladies appeared with arms laden with Peace Baskets, decorative baskets and woven wall hangings as a "thank you" for all of us, including Mary, a woman who oversees the women prisoners. Mary informed us that when she went to check on the ladies yesterday they were ALL reading their Bibles.....every single one.

The baskets are such beautiful gifts, ones we will treasure for sure. As we were leaving three more women handed me additional different baskets and later I discovered one had a tiny handwritten note inside that gave her name and in Kinyarwanda it said " God bless you. Pray for me and I shall meet you in heaven".

As we got outside the walls and were walking toward the area where the men were getting ready for the Certificate of Completion ceremony the women prisoners rushed to the few window openings in the 20 foot brick walls to wave and get one last glimpse of us.

I don't have adequate words.............

The men have had a wonderful time doing the Spiritual Leader Training and from all the terrific reports, Pastor Al, Steve and Pastor Roger will have stories and memories for a lifetime.

We have such wonderful Rwandan volunteer partners here, they are a vital part of the ministry we are doing. Alfred and Blessing Mupenzi and Pastor Peter Deyali translate for us, not just word for word but they capture the biblical concept we are conveying.
The nine of us make a powerful team.

I will have to tell you in person about the adventure the women's team plus Alfred had yesterday at Mpanga Prison but when I was standing in front of and realized that I was going to preach to approx. 7,000 men and women prisoners I turned to Kathy and Lovena and said "You'd better be praying!!!" to which Kathy said, "Your David with 5 smooth stones facing Goliath."

I hope one of the men will be able to blog and tell you about the Trainings. We are all going to miss Steve as he is leaving for America tomorrow. I know he is anxious to see his wife, Joyce, and tell her what he saw God do here.

Continue to pray that the team would have renewed strength for our remaining time here as we have a crusade tomorrow, 1 more TIG camp crusade and two more prisons to do ministry in.

That none would be lost,

for the team

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 19.....

Ministry Partners,

Miracles...... now that's an interesting word especially because we say that word so very many times every day.

Yesterday, Sunday, we were privileged to minister to a Christian high school where one of the requirements is that the youth must acknowledge that they have already accepted Christ as their Savior.
But from my past experiences I know that because of their religious heritage many think that knowing who Jesus is and what he did makes him a Christian.
I wanted the team to all be used to do the speaking but told them I felt it still needed to be evangelistic too. Steve, Lovena, and Pastor Roger shared as did Kathy, who had many in tears. Pastor Al also spoke and gave one invitation and later in the day Alfred felt another one was important, so he gave one.

We can only offer the Savior praise for the seven students who receive God's free gift of salvation.
These high schoolers are the leaders of tomorrow and the biblical questions they asked were evidence of hearts that are seeking to understand Scriptures and how to apply those Scriptures to their lives. I for one, was so glad that Pastor Al is a part of our team as he readily answered their questions with the truth of God's Word.

A question-and-answer period that was to last one hour, beginning at three o'clock, actually lasted until five o'clock.

One of the interesting questions asked was concerning IRM. That student wanted to know why I had chosen that name for the ministry instead of using my own name. Of course a part of my answer was that God had given us the name International Reconciliation Ministries but can you imagine how ridiculous it would sound to be saying "Arlene Tatum Ministries". As always, God's design is far better, to say the least.

We had taken with us 130 NIV English Bibles to distribute and then we realized God in fact had done another miracle. As Steve would say it was another "WOW" moment when we were told by the headmaster that they're discipleship materials were formatted for NIV Bibles and they had not been able to get any!!!

The drive home took almost 2 hours and you could tell we were all reflecting on the day as no one was talking much.

Flexibility...........hummmm....... may not be a word we say often here that is one we actually do very often.

Today, Monday, we thought we had our plans pretty much laid out but the flexibility started soon after breakfast at nine o'clock when Pastor Peter arrived and informed us that some of the HIV women's group were waiting for us. We had thought we would see them about 1 PM but we decided to go earlier as Pastor Roger needed some printing done.

What a blessing it is to have Pastor Peter be so gracious in accompany us here and there to do errands along with the Crusades.

Once again we saw God's hand at work as Pastor Peter, Kathy, Lovena and I were at the printers and who should walk in but Alfred to pick up some printing for Plan Incorporated, the company where he works. God had that encounter time just right as he was there to do the dickering for our cost price and as usual he got the price reduced. His appearing at just that time was not an element of chance but once again God's hand of provision. Thank you, Jesus.

Then we were off to meet with the HIV/AIDS women. We expected to see 15 there when we arrived we could see by the numbers of pairs of shoes outside that there were far more than 15 and in fact as we entered the room it was packed. Many women had heard their neighbors talking about coming and also wanted to come and some had just heard their beautiful singing that had started at 9 AM and they wanted to come and join the group.

Allison and the other women seamstresses from New Life Church would be so pleased to know that they're beautiful handmade shopping bags brought such smiles and joy to these women. We could only stay a few moments, our time with them was far too short.

Then we headed back to Moucecore to have lunch with the men and finish packing for our trip to Butare tomorrow. The men loaded Bibles and Discipleship Booklets and Alfred arrived right after we had finished lunch.

At 2 PM we headed off to do a crusade at the 3rd TIG Camp. It was a small camp with men and women and it has only been there about four months. We were warmly welcomed and showed around the camp that is still under construction. Lovena got some great photos of the cooking area as well as some of the men who were eating their dinner. They do road and other construction duties and women in their long fabric skirts work right alongside the men.

We watched another miracle as the Holy Spirit spoke into the hearts of all, except five, who attended the crusade received God's free gift of salvation. Even one man from administration came and pulled me aside as we were about to leave and with tears in his eyes revealed he too had prayed the sinners prayer.
Once again the Bibles made such an impact on each one, their faces and singing told the story.

It's been a most marvelous day.... another day to give God praise. All of us on this team , Rwandan and American, feel very privileged to watch what God does each day.

Tomorrow we travel to Butare for a Prison Crusade, a 3 day Spiritual Leader Training and 2 day Women's Conference. The Women and Alfred will also hold a Crusade at Mpanga Prison.

I am having computer problems and that along with the internet issues please pray that I will be able to continue to post.

The team appreciates your continued prayers for:
  • open hearts for the Gospel
  • safety as we travel
  • health
That none would be lost,
for the team

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 19........

Ministry Partners,

Greetings from Rwanda, the land of 1000 hills and 1000 smiles.

It has been another busy day for the team. In the morning, Alfred, Steve, Kathy, Lovena and Arlene all made a trip into town to exchange US dollars for Rwandan francs, purchase 40 cases (24 bottles ea.) of water and pick up supplies for the Spiritual leaders training.

Some of the team also bought a few souvenirs for family and friends back home. Steve had a brief lesson in "bartering" from Arlene and did quite well. The Rwandans quite enjoy that part of selling their wares. It brings smiles and laughter to all involved.

Once arriving back at Moucecore the team had lunch together and was joined by Pastor Peter, who would be doing ministry with us during the afternoon and Blessing, Alfred's wife, also accompanied us.

IRM held another crusade at a second "Blue Shirt" TIG Camp. These are facilities for paroles who are in transition from prison to their villages and they are doing "community service" before they enter the main stream of life in Rwanda.
The drive there was beautiful as we drove 45 min. over a very steep, dirt, rutted road to the top of a mountain. We passed a number of very small villages that brought the comment from a couple of team members "Looks like a good place for Village evangelism to me",to which everyone heartily agreed.

It is an amazing thing with the amount of poverty here that the children seem as if they are untouched by it. Broad smiles and waving arms are displayed by all of them as we drive by. At one point we made a brief stop and the children were very excited, verbally expressing their excitement, at touching the "white" arm that one of the team members had extended out the window.

The camp Coordinator greeted us warmly and we were amazed to find in the details just how much God had gone before us that we would find favor with this man. It was discovered that both he and Pastor Peter were from the same refugee camp in Uganda!!!!
Now, just what are the chances of that happening?

There are about 240 men and women in this camp and 170 of them attended the crusade. They had been informed we were coming so when we arrived we could hear them singing to the rhythm of two drums. Alfred immediately joined them in their singing and began to lead them in worship.

The Coordinator was quite gracious in his introduction of us and instructed those present to listen to what Arlene had to say followed by staying through the entire service himself.

Arlene introduced the team and Pastor Al opened in prayer, then Pastor Roger shared his testimony. Arlene spoke a message on "Fear" and how making choices out of fear and not trusting God can cause us to make very poor choices for ourselves followed by devastating consequences. She spoke about the nation of Israel, King Uzziah and her personal testimony.
The team was privileged to see the Holy Spirit speak into the hearts of those present as all but 10 received God's free gift of salvation.

Then it was time to hand out the Bibles and Discipleship Booklets that we had brought.
We told them we had plenty and to stay seated while we passed them out. Some smiled so broadly and said "thank you" while some men just wept. Then it was a time to celebrate, to sing and dance giving God praise for this most precious gift. It's really quite a sight to see them clutching their Bibles over their heads and celebrating with such joy.
"Thank You"
to each one of you who donated to the
"Bibles for Rwanda" project.

At the end of the crusade the Coordinator addressed those present stating that he to was impacted by what he heard. That was extremely transparent for some one in his position.

Once outside and standing beside the van getting ready to leave Arlene gathered the women around her and placed a donated scarf and tract into the hands of the women as she "African greeted" each one.
As we drove away from the camp I could not contain the tears of gratitude to the Lord that I felt.

Lovena got some great photos of the beautiful landscape as we descended the mountain.

None of us are used to eating full meals like we do here but once again we were hungry and enjoyed our evening meal together, it must surely be the heat.

We spent some time debriefing and working out some details for tomorrows ministry before saying good night to Pastor Peter, Alfred and Blessing.

We see so many new opportunities and miracles every day that I almost become overwhelmed as I watch God work. His provision and care for us is unmatched.

Tomorrow is Sunday and a full day of ministry for us so I will say bye for now.

That none would be lost,
for the team

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 17.......

God is so good.
The people here are so open to the God and His word. It makes me understand what God means when He says the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. It is so evident that God is at work in this country.

I miss my family and my back is tired of the thin mattress but how can I complain when God has let me be apart of something so wonderful, so eternal. I can not!

So, God I thank you for this amazing day and I thank you for 36 more souls that decided to follow you. I thank you that you let me be apart of effecting eternity. I thank you for the connections that were made and renewed today in the family of God, and I thank you for helping me to overcome my fear enough that I could see you do these amazing things.

for the IRM Team.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16....

Ps. 67:2 "may your ways be known on earth, your salvation among all the nations."

Thank you for everyone who is praying... your prayers are needed... your prayers are being answered.

IRM was the first ministry to hold a crusade at a "Blue Shirt" Camp. These are facilities for paroles who are in transition from prison for the genocide and they are doing community service before they enter the main stream of life in Rwanda.
We were welcomed with open arms by the administration. Many came to Christ. Bibles were placed in their hands and the joy on their faces was indescribable.

Arlene, Kathy and Lovena went today to Prison Fellowship's HIV women's meeting and shared the gospel and Bible teaching and enjoyed lunch with the women. One woman expressed, "When Arlene and her friends come, we are not only fed, but we are full in our hearts as well."

Pastor Al, Alfred, Pastor Roger and Steve went and visited Pastor Peter of the Four Sq. Church. He was in a motorcycle accident in which he injured his back, two weeks later he was returning from his father-in-laws funeral and was in an automobile accident and was in a coma for two days. He had blunt force trauma and severe chest pain. He is at home and doing much better, but is to be resting at home for at least a month. We were able to pray with him, his wife and two beautiful daughters.

We are all finally getting use to the time change and starting to sleep most of the night.

Tomorrow is the Four Sq Women's conference and a village outreach for the guys.

We are seeing God work out details and guide us in places we cannot even imagine. The children of Rwanda are wonderful, the opportunities are limitless and the joy of serving on this team is an incredible privilege.

Grace and peace,

Your IRM Team

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13th 2011

Grace & Peace to each of you in America,
Let me get it over with up front,"Overwhelming"
Our travels to Rwanda allowed God to demonstrate His grace.
We saw God miraculously work in several circumstances, including allowing us to not miss a connection which would have added several hours on to our trip.
Pastor Al, Kathy, Lovena, Steve, and Pastor Roger really enjoyed getting to know each other during the travel time(though Pastor Al was doing a lot of catch up on sleep!)
Our plane could not initially land at Kigali because of severe lightning storms, so we were diverted to Entebbe, Uganda but we were up and going back to Rwanda within an hour.
After going to bed at 1:00am we were up and going early to minister at Pastor Deo's church(Director of Prison Fellowship/Rwanda). Pastor Al gave an incredible 20 min message (forty minutes including translation)traveling from Genesis to Revelation - 27 responded to Christ. Today we passed out tracts and walked and talked with locals while we were getting supplies for our time here.
Huge prayer need: Favor from God regarding our schedule and open doors...
So many amazing and "overwhelming" opportunities to see the Spirit of God work...
More to come, pray with us, and then, pray some more!!!
Love all of you,
IRM Team

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Ministry Partners,

They're here, they're here, the plane has finally landed and only four hours later than scheduled!!!!
An unusual storm over Kigali prevented the plane from landing as scheduled and a number of planes circled the airport and then were rerouted to another country but then I will let one of the team that was in the plane blog about that.

Thank you Jesus for bringing them safely here.

It was so nice to see their smiling, tired faces and God's blessing in all of it was a safe landing at 11 PM not only for them but for every single piece of luggage.

The storm was unusual and has continued even through this evening with lots of lightning, thunder and a torrential downpour. The nationals say it is very odd to have this kind of weather at this time of year.

This morning we attended the church where Pastor Deo from Prison Fellowship is the pastor. I suggested that Pastor Al preach and as usual he did a wonderful job with 27 receiving God's free gift of salvation. The whole morning was filled with wonderful worship in a style only the Rwandans can do.

After the service Alfred, Blessing and the children joined us for lunch and then left for their home as they had to be back at Moucecore for the IRM "Welcome Dinner" at 5 PM. About 24 old and new ministry partners have been invited and I am so excited to the faces of those who worked with us last year.

The floral bouquet that Alfred and Blessing gave me was on the center of the head table and the tables were decorated with different colors curly ribbon and candy.

It was a very nice evening that ended by taking Communion together led by Pastor Roger.

Tomorrow there are meetings scheduled and the team will go into town to exchange money.

I think they will probably sleep very well tonight.
Praising God for his goodness. Your continued prayers appreciated.

That would be lost,


Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 9........

Ministry Partners and Friends,

It has been another beautiful sunny day in Kigali and although it is warm the air is cooled with a gentle breeze.

Today was cause to once again do the "happy dance" as cases and cases of Bibles were delivered by the Rwanda Bible Society to the locked storeroom donated by Moucecore Guesthouse where I and the team will be staying.

Thank You" for your sacrificial giving so that others might be blessed.

Not to far away are many churches and one of them had services almost all day today so I was blessed by their wonderful worship. Is that not a great combination?.....sunshine + worship + Bibles & Discipleship Booklets to distribute free to those who are so hungry for the written Word of God. Perhaps tomorrow morning I can go there before I work with that new group of HIV/AIDS ladies. I purchased candy to share with them and I will be giving them one of the beautiful scarves you donated.

Thank you also for your prayers as baby Promise, Arlene, Mupenzi is doing better and released from the hospital and her father, Alfred, is continuing to improve for the effects of Malaria. Please continue to pray for:
  • Pastor Peter and his wife
  • For me, unspoken and for my health
The internet did not work most of the day but appears to be up.

Thank you again for all your continued prayers and support. I have really enjoyed your blog comments and emails of encouragement. Please forgive me for not replying to each individual one.

That none would be lost,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 7......

Ministry Partners,

I have not been able to post to this blog since I've been in Rwanda because the Internet service at Moucecore guesthouse has not been up but I was just informed this evening that is was working.

It's hard to believe that I have been here five days already and those have been very busy days indeed.

Saturday I was invited to speak the next day, Sunday, at Church on the Rock for both the first service, English, and second service, Kinyarwanda. I planned on preaching the same message both times but the people from the first service stayed for the second. I am thankful to the Holy Spirit for giving me the second new message "right on the spot".

Seeing so many familiar faces and giving and receiving so many hugs makes me feel right at home. But just doing the every day things take so much longer than in America.

After leaving yesterday morning at 8:30 for town with Alfred Mupenzi, the IRM Operations Supervisor, and Pastor Peter Deyali, Grace Treasurers Church, we exchanged money, went to 1 bank and waited in line 1 hour (all to be told they could not help us), purchased water for the team's arrival, stopped by the Bible society, had lunch, checked on the cost of printing the Discipleship Booklets, had some other copies made, went to a 2nd bank (they could help us), briefly met with Pastor Deo from Prison Fellowship and finally arriving home at 4:30. Because we had the car and driver for over 4 hours (considered 1/2 day) the cost was $80 instead of $40.

Hummmm…. the same thing happened last Friday and today.

Thankful for my first day of rest tomorrow, at least until tomorrow evening when I was asked to speak at a home meeting of some officials. Thursday, Friday and Sat. before the team arrives are all full and busy. I think next year I will come 2 weeks early - Lord willing and the Team here agrees.

I am so looking forward to Friday as I have the opportunity to work with a new group of 40 HIV/AIDS ladies.

Today, we had more errands to do in town this time making purchases for ministry and the teams arrival. While there I purchased a beautiful piece of fabric to have made into a dress and then had to have both of the soles of my shoes repaired at a huge cost of 60 cents each and it was a very well done job!

Late this afternoon I met with Bishop Denis from Bethel Pentecostal Church at his request. He invited me to be one of the speakers for the Regional Crusade and Conference, March 5-18,2012. During our 1 1/2 hour meeting he reported that they expected to have at least 100,000 in attendance. I am going to have to spend much time in prayer concerning this opportunity!!!

Please pray for our Rwandan team partners:
  • Pastor Peter & his wife – Foursquare Gospel Church Rwanda – had his back injured due to a motorbike accident and then was involved in a second accident, followed by the death of his father-in-law.
  • Baby Arlene Mupenzi (3 yrs.) – hospitalized 4 days ago with tonsils problems and unable to eat due to sores in her mouth
  • Alfred Mupenzi – still dealing with effects of Malaria
  • Unspoken request - I will inform you later

Thank you dear partners for your continued prayers,



Please comment below, I would love to hear from you

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 3.......

Hello from Kigali Ministry Partners and friends.

I must make this brief as I am in an internet cafe using someone elses computer.
I arrived safely last night and had a good nights sleep.
Thank you for your continued prayers.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

At the airport......

Hello from the Portland airport. I arrived at the airport at 4:45 AM and by 5:30 AM, I was sitting at my designated date. They did not even the weigh my bags but just asked me about their weight. I guess it was a good thing that I weighed them at least six times so I was sure they would not be overweight. Just proof that Jesus is in control and guiding my steps. Have had a great opportunity to visit with a couple of ladies that are sitting with me.

thank you for the continuing prayers,

Africa, here I come........

Ministry Partners,

Today, Wednesday, starts early for me 3:15 so I can be at the airport by 5 with my flight time of 7:30. It's hard to believe I will be in beautiful Rwanda tomorrow evening.

I will keep this blog updated as the internet service is available

Thank you again to each one of you who made this ministry trip possible by your faithful prayers and financial support.

It was hard to go to sleep last night because I just wanted to keep doing the "happy dance".

Rwanda, I'm on my way.